CRIME AND COURT ROUNDUP: John Doe investigation into finance violations during recall elections will continue
A secret John Doe investigation will continue into alleged campaign finance law violations in the Wisconsin recall elections of 2011-and-'12. The state appeals court in Madison unanimously decided yesterday to throw out an effort to halt the probe. This comes three weeks after the judge in the case, Gregory Peterson, quashed subpoenas in which prosecutors were seeking evidence from conservative groups. Previous media reports said the John Doe was zeroing in on alleged illegal coordination between outside conservative groups and the campaigns of G-O-P recall candidates -- including Governor Scott Walker. Dean Strang, the attorney for a group of unnamed petitioners who've been trying to halt the John Doe, says he might appeal yesterday's ruling to the State Supreme Court. Numerous documents in the case were unsealed yesterday, showing that the probe centers on five individual targets -- most of whom are from the counties that surround Madison. Also, it was revealed that Republican state Attorney General J-B Van Hollen turned down a request to be the chief prosecutor. He thought about it for five months before deciding it would not make him look impartial, and possibly undermining public confidence in the investigation as a whole. Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, a Democrat, was asked to lead the probe at the start of last year. He arranged for former federal prosecutor Francis Schmitz to take the lead role.
The defense will start making its case today in the trial of a former Eau Claire pediatrician accused of having sexual contact with 15 of his patients. The state rested its case yesterday after a week-and-a-half of testimony in David Van de Loo's trial. The 61-year-old Van de Loo is charged with 16 sex-related felony counts involving his former male patients at the Mayo Health System in Eau Claire. Prosecutors said he inappropriately touched the boys during their medical exams. It's not known yet whether Van de Loo will testify in his own defense. The trial was moved from Eau Claire to Superior, where a Douglas County jury is hearing the case due to heavy pre-trial publicity in western Wisconsin. The trial is expected to wrap up sometime next week.
A jury in Stevens Point will resume deliberations this morning in the trial of Ronald Disher, who's accused of helping steal Social Security checks from his missing mother-in-law. The 72-year-old Disher testified yesterday that he had no knowledge of the stolen checks, which totaled 175-thousand dollars over 33 years. He admitted driving his wife Delores and her brother Charles Jost to a bank each month to cash the checks -- but he didn't know what his relatives were doing in the bank, and he had nothing to do with it. In closing arguments, prosecutor Veronica Isherwood said it appeared that Disher knew exactly what was going on -- and he was careful not to park in the bank's lot so his vehicle wouldn't be spotted by its security cameras. Portage County District Attorney Lou Molepske Junior says jurors are poring over hundreds of documents related to the stolen checks. He says it's possible the deliberations will run into this afternoon.
A Wausau area couple convicted over four years ago for praying instead of getting medical help for their dying daughter must finally go to jail. Marathon County Circuit Judge Greg Huber said no yesterday to throwing out six-month jail terms for Dale and Leilani Neumann -- sentences that were on hold while the couple tried-and-failed to win appeals of their 2009 convictions all the way to the U-S Supreme Court. Huber said the two must go to jail in September, and serve one month a year for six years during their 10-year probation terms. Appearing by phone, Leilani Neumann said the massive publicity about the case degraded her -- but the judge said the seriousness of the crimes required at least some incarceration. The Neumanns were convicted of reckless homicide in a pair of nationally-watched religious freedom cases. Their 11-year-old daughter Kara died from complications of diabetes -- and her parents tried prayer healing instead of going to doctors who said they could have treated her.
A federal agency is recommending 47-thousand-dollars in fines against a foundry in La Crosse where a worker was killed last July. The Occupational Safety-and-Health Administration has cited Torrance Casting for 10 safety violations. 40-year-old Eric Lecher died last July 29th when he was repairing a liner on the inside of a cold furnace, and he fell into the unit head-first. Police said Lecher might have been trapped for an hour-and-a-half before a co-worker found him. The furnace was off at the time. Yesterday, OSHA announced nine serious rule violations. Four were for letting an employee enter a confined space not designed to be occupied continuously. Torrance Casting said none of the concerns listed by the government would have prevented the accident. The firm has 15 days to pay the fine, challenge the citations, or seek a settlement.